Sixteen women entered The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion tournament to determine the inaugural UFC women’s 125-pound champion. After twelve episodes, the field has been narrowed to two. On Friday, at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, two of the lowest seeded women in the competition will compete for UFC gold. No. 12 seed Sijara Eubanks upset top seed Roxanne Modafferi to secure her spot in the finals. Eubanks will face No. 14 seed Nicco Montano in the TUF 26 Finale main event at Park Theater in Las Vegas.
Eubanks struggled to make weight in her two previous bouts and sought the assistance of the UFC Performance Institute. She hit her mark on the first attempt. She entered the competition with a 2-2 record, coming off a loss to Aspen Ladd in January. Modafferi was one of the most seasoned fighters in the tournament with 34 career fights and entered the show on a two-fight winning streak.
The Fight: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Sijara Eubanks
Modafferi landed her right hand often in the early going of the opening round while Eubanks pressed forward with power punches. The first three minutes of the round played out like a kickboxing bout. With 90 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Eubanks changed levels and took Modafferi down. She delivered punches and elbows as Modafferi searched for a submission.
Modafferi defended an early takedown attempt by Eubanks in the second stanza but was unable to fend off the second. Modafferi reversed the position but was unable to inflict damage. Eubanks isolated an arm and used it to regain top position. She mounted Modafferi and hammered away with punches. Modafferi rolled and gave up her back. Eubanks locked on a rear-naked choke, but Modafferi survived.
The final round played out like the first two. They engaged in a striking battle before Eubanks put Modafferi on her back. Midway through the frame Eubanks took Modafferi down. Modafferi scrambled back to her feet but was unable to escape the grasp of Eubanks. Eubanks delivered knees to the body and legs of Modafferi along the cage. Modafferi attempted to trip Eubanks to the canvas but ended up on the bottom. Modafferi worked her way back to her feet and the two slugged it out for the final ten seconds.
After fifteen minutes of fighting, the judges scored the fight for Eubanks by unanimous decision. All three scorecards read 30-27.
“I feel super fantastic right now. I just beat Roxanne and I’m going to the finals,” said Eubanks following the win. “I feel like a million bucks. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling I have right now.”
“I’m absolutely going to get that belt, going to get that strap,” added Eubanks.
“It’s really tough to lose today. I’m very bummed that I couldn’t be the one to get my hand raised,” said Modafferi after the loss.
Eubanks will face Montano to determine who will be the first ever UFC women’s flyweight champion.